Former Real Madrid and Arsenal star Julio Baptista is rumored to join Kerala Blasters. According to reports, the Indian football club are close to signing an agreement with the 35-year-old. This news came a day after Dutch youngster Mark Sifneos joined the Kochi-based club.
Julio left Major League Soccer team Orlando City in January this year and has been without a club since then. The report linking Baptista to Kerala Blasters comes as a surprise as there were only two foreign spots to fill in the squad. Having already roped in two overseas strikers – Ian Hume and Mark Sifneos, head coach Rene Meulensteen is on the lookout for another goal scoring option, which is believed to be Dimitar Berbatov. Hence, the news of the club reaching an agreement with the Brazilian, who has scored 93 club career goals, doesn't connect the dots.
The deadline for ISL transfers is by the end of this month but free agents can be signed outside the transfer window. That said, Baptista will be another marquee addition to the Blasters squad should he put pen to paper.
The 2017-18 Indian Super League campaign starts on November 17 and teams are expected to head for their preseason camps a month in advance. Kerala Blasters, having appointed the Dutchman Meulensteen, will most likely head to the Netherlands for their preseason camp.
Whether signing Baptista will improve Kerala Blasters remains to be seen, but alternative information suggests that the Brazilian is a contingency arrangement from the club in case the Berbatov deal falls through at the last minute, which is an unlikely prospect.
Baptista is one of the most well-known Brazilian forwards of the past decade, having featured for the likes of Real Madrid, Arsenal, AS Roma and Sevilla among others, he will be an invaluable addition to any ISL side, not least Kerala Blasters.